One year ago at this time I was working on what would have become my first column in Observant. Since then, a few other columns have followed over the course of the past academic year. It’s been a beautiful experience so far, at the same time inspiring and instructing. Coming up with a column every so many months has required me to spend some time thinking about what I would like to say that other people may find interesting to know about, and sometime hopefully even useful. In this process, I also have had the chance to push myself to ponder what I really like, what are my interests, my priorities, my expectations, and many other things that together converged into a process that has contributed to know myself better.
I find it then a bit funny that exactly one year ago I wrote my first column on the pursuit of happiness, and the importance of knowing myself to achieve it. It’s always been a recurrent thought in my mind over many years, together with the obsession for time. Not the physical time, but the never-ending tension between past and future that seems to characterize our experience as humans, and the incapability to completely grasp the present. And it’s in this tension that I think the need for happiness becomes even more meaningful, as a life line that can give a sense to everything. Am I happy when I wake up in the morning? That’s my every day’s question, and I think this is strongly connected to the ability of looking at life and the world around me like a child, being amazed by its beauty and simplicity, as children naturally seem to do.
Once I read of an interview to Steven Kellogg on why he became an author and illustrator of children’s book. He said that as a kid he was very aware of the fact that a lot of the adults in his neighbourhood hated their jobs. Knowing that one day he would be an adult, he really didn't want to lose the fun of childhood by going into this dark period where every day started off with resignation and gloom or worse. And so he was determined to get to know himself very well and choose a job that he thought would be just right for him. So desperately true.
Pietro Bonizzi, Assistant Professor at Knowledge Engineering